Four Publishing Options for New Authors

When you’re ready to publish your book, you might be surprised that you have more than two options (traditional publishing house, or self-publishing). Here’s an overview of four available publishing options to consider.

1. PDF ebook

This is the simplest method of publishing a book. Simply “save as” your Word doc as a PDF. Then, sell the file.

Pros: 

  • Costs nothing

  • Doesn’t require special formatting for print

  • Easily sent to advance readers

  • Great if you want to use your book as a lead magnet 

  • Profits are all yours

Cons:

  • Doesn’t carry the same authority as a hard copy book

  • Ebooks don’t command nearly the same selling price as hard copy books

  • For a cleaner more professional look, you’ll need outstanding cover art, which may be an added expense

  • You are responsible for marketing your book

2. Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle is an easy way to self-publish: spend a few minutes formatting your manuscript, upload it, and your book could be on Amazon’s online shelves in hours.  

Pros:

  • Very inexpensive

  • You will likely need to hire someone to create your cover art

  • Amazon’s “free days” help distribute your book to a huge audience (for free)

  • You get most of the profits (for books costing $2.99-9.99, your royalty is 70%; for books over $10, the royalty is 35%)

Cons: 

  • Better than an ebook, but still not as good as a hard copy book for establishing you as an authority

  • The low cost of Kindle books diminishes their perceived value

  • Other than the “free days” Amazon doesn’t do any marketing, leaving the marketing up to you

3. Print On Demand

A relatively new technology, Print on Demand (POD) gives you the option of selling hard copy books but not having to commit to spending a lot of money to publish minimum orders. Amazon’s Create Space is a POD enterprise; when someone buys the book, the book is printed and shipped the next day. 

Pros:

  • No upfront publishing cost; no minimum print runs

  • Fast delivery to your customer; no chance of your customer seeing an “out of print” or “currently available” message which could send them to your competition

  • Retail pricing is compatible with mass-printed books, which gives the book more clout

  • You do need to pay printing costs, but they are low: $0.012 per page for black and white; $0.07 per page for color; and $.85 for cover binding (for a 100-page book, that’s roughly $2.20)

Cons:

  • Nobody will do your marketing for you 

  • You will need to format the book for print (or hire someone to do it)

  • You will need to create cover art (or hire someone to do it)

4. Traditional Publishing House

This is the most challenging option, especially for new authors. Traditional publishing houses have a decided preference for established authors whose work sells. They’re in it to make money, and rarely take chances on an unknown. However, if you are accepted by a traditional publisher, they will do a lot of marketing and press for you.

Pros:

  • Serious clout, as only authors whose work promises to sell are ever accepted by publishing houses 

  • The publisher handles marketing, including promotions on their site, book signings, press releases, book launches, etc. 

Cons

  • Extremely hard to get accepted

  • Low royalties (around 8%)

  • Can take a long time to actually see the book on shelves (a real problem if your topic is trending today but old news tomorrow)

Conclusion

Many new authors opt for creating ebooks first, then move on to Kindle and POD. If these platforms do well, the author will gain the interest of publishing houses. There’s no perfect solution - it depends on your budget and your expertise as a marketer. The point is, though, don’t get hung up on “how” you’re going to distribute your book. Write it first, create a lot of buzz around it, and then, armed with what you’ve learned here, decide which publishing platform is the best place for you to start.